Dudek dismissed as outdated reports from both The Herald and the Justice Department that many children in nursing homes receive little education or stimulation.
“These reports that they throw somebody in a back room somewhere, where it’s not at all child-based, where they don’t talk to the child, that’s not true at all,” Dudek said.
Records from both AHCA and DCF, however, show both agencies have been concerned about the practice — even in recent months.
As recently as September, when DCF dispatched foster care caseworkers to visit dependent children in nursing homes, workers with the private Our Kids agency said children at a Miami Gardens nursing home had no toys in their rooms and few in a common playroom.
“There is an activity board by the nurses’ station that lists daily activities, however, our assessment is that there did not seem to be structured activities at the time we were there,” the Our Kids team wrote in a report.
Carroll, the DCF administrator, defended the state’s handling of the Freyre case, saying Marie — who had cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder — was in no way “a poster child” for the plight of children sent to live in nursing homes.
Carroll said twice that a Tampa judge had not ordered the state to return Marie to her mother, and provide — at least temporarily — 24-hour nursing care to Doris Freyre.
But a court “order” signed on March 30, 2011, by Hillsborough Circuit Judge Vivian T. Corvo says “the child shall be returned to the mother,” and adds: “services are in home from midnight to 7a.m.” — the time frame for which state Medicaid administrators had refused to pay for nursing.
When questioned about the order, Carroll insisted it was more like a recommendation.
“We did not violate a judge’s order,” he said. “The judge asked us to explore getting 24-hour care.”